The Tasting Panel magazine

October 2016

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24  /  the tasting panel  /  october 2016 SCOTCH REPORT by Ian Buxton Worth the Hunt I 'm sorry, but I have some hard-to-find whiskies for you this issue. However, the good news is that they are uni- formly rather special and guaranteed to please your more discerning malt whisky enthusiasts. But let's start with something relatively straightforward from Ireland: the new Lustau Edition (SRP $69) from Redbreast. This will be a permanent addition to the growing Redbreast range. The reference is to the storied Bodegas Lustau in Jerez, Spain, source of the magnificent Sherry butts in which the Redbreast pot still whiskey has been finished for a year. Unlike the rest of the range, it's non-aged (I'd guess at least 12 years, though) but bottled at 46% ABV and non-chill-filtered for a lovely, creamy palate and rich finish. You will pay a little more and have to find some friends in the U.K. to track down my next two releases, the so-called "experimental casks" from Glenfiddich. Their Malt Master, Brian Kinsman, has worked with 20 casks, each selected by one of Glenfiddich's international brand ambassadors to create Project XX, a one-off, small-batch bottling (U.K. SRP is £50). With some rare and unusual casks going into Kinsman's vats, it's sure to intrigue the many fans of this celebrated brand. They will also want to try the IPA Experiment, so called because it was finished in casks from a local craft brewery previously containing India Pale Ale (hence, IPA). It's zesty, hoppy—and in short supply! (UK SRP £45) Another single malt to track down without delay is Ardbeg's 21 Year Old. At £310 a bottle, it's reserved for members of the Ardbeg Committee as a "thank you" for their long-term support of this now-legendary Islay dram. I don't suppose I need say more than "Ardbeg 21" to excite your interest, but I can assure you that this unusually old Ardbeg combines all the pepper and smoke that enthusiasts love, but tempered by a rich sweet fruitiness that comes with the extra years in cask. Finally, October marks the arrival of the keenly- awaited Diageo Special Releases series. Every year they scour their warehouses for the rarest of rare casks from long-lamented lost distilleries such as Port Ellen (another Islay legend), Brora and Cambus, and superlative expressions from their more obscure working sites, such as Auchroisk, Linkwood and Mannochmore, among others. I was fortunate to attend an advance tasting. For me the stand-out drams came from Cambus (just 1,812 bottles worldwide of a creamy 40 Year Old, notably the first release in this series from this grain distillery, closed in 1993); a sweet and smooth Auchroisk 25 Years Old which surprised with fruits on the palate (3,954 bottles); and a magnificent, utterly classic Brora which at 38 years of age was mellow, smoky and reminiscent of a day's rough shooting (cordite, polished leather and "rancio"; 2,984 bottles). And, of course, what will be for many drinkers and collectors the highlight— a 37-year-old Port Ellen (2,940 bottles) that continues to demonstrate what an incredible loss the closure of this distillery represents. U.S. pricing for the Diageo Special Releases is as follows: Auchroisk 25, $450; Brora 38, $2,200; Cambus 40, $1,150 (a comparative bargain!); Caol Ila 15, $140; Cragganmore (NAS), $600; Glenkinchie 24, $450; Lagavulin 12, $135 (another one to snap up); Linkwood 37, $900; Mannochmore 25, $400; and Port Ellen 37, $4,000. Happy hunting! HARD-TO-FIND SCOTCHES TO SEEK OUT

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